• Fan Support Needed Now More Than Ever

    Pras Murthy

    In the first three months of the season, Arizona played six true road games. Over the final 22 days, they will play five. And as the Wildcats learned first hand on Friday, winning on the road is never easy and perfection is often required down the stretch.

    While Arizona's undefeated start may have had some fans dreaming of Final Fours and banners, the team never wavered in its focus on winning the conference. As Lute Olson proved, when you win the conference, other goals such as a high seed and deep tourney run tend to follow.

    After 12 games, Arizona is great position to do just that. They effectively have a two game lead over UCLA with six games to play and both teams have four road games left.

    But it won't be easy. Utah, Colorado, and Oregon State are a combined 16-3 in home conference games. And if Arizona needs to win its final game to clinch the conference, a game at Oregon might be the most difficult of all.

    This week will set the tone for the conference race down the stretch. If Arizona can split, UCLA will need to be virtually perfect to steal the crown. If they can't, it's likely to be neck and neck until the final night.

    But a funny thing happens when Arizona plays on the road. Seemingly regardless of where or when the game is played, U of A chants can be heard at critical times. And it can make a difference; anyone in attendance last game knows that without the sea of red and blue, Arizona likely loses in regulation.

    And that makes sense. Home court advantage is one of the biggest factors in college basketball. When opposing fans can fill seats it chips away at that, one person at a time. And on a neutral court, true fan support can be the difference.

    With Brandon Ashley this team had an aura of invincibility, backed up by their record. Crowd support was nice, but hardly seemed needed. Without Ashley, there are clearly chinks in the armor. But the flaws are no deeper than any other team in the country. The margin of error is small, however, and the little things can make a difference.

    Little things like the crowd. This team is good enough that the slightest advantage may be all it needs to win down the stretch. Winning the conference is likely the key to having tournament games in San Diego, and then potentially Anaheim. The arenas will be Arizona's for the taking.

    And so, now becomes the most critical time for fans to support the team. It may cost a little more or be a little more difficult than we'd like, but there's something to be said for a fanbase collectively willing their team to victory.

    Some fans seem angry it has come to this, citing complaint after complaint regarding Arizona's recent play. Expecting the conference title to be handed to us is arrogant at best. Consider that Syracuse, with its perfect record, only holds a half game lead in their conference, and still has to play at Duke and at Virginia (2nd place). Would you prefer that path? Conference titles are earned, not given.

    Sean Miller often instructs his team to Do what we do better than our opponent. And so I implore Wildcat Nation to do what we do better than anyone else: travel. If you have the opportunity to get to Salt Lake City, Boulder, Corvallis, Eugene, Las Vegas, or Southern California, start thinking about it now. Let's sacrifice our voices, hearts, and wallets to will the ball through the hoop one more time.

    With only two home games left, the ending to this season will be determined away from the friendly confines of McKale. But that doesn't mean we can't be there. The players won't be going home without a fight; fans shouldn't either.
    Comments 23 Comments
    1. Kdogsr.'s Avatar
      Kdogsr. -
      Freakin awesome article Pras, I really enjoyed it!!
    1. HSP's Avatar
      HSP -
      I agree! Mathew Knight Arena, Coors Event Center, and the Jon M. Huntsman Center are going to be very tough places to win!! Get out and support your cats and bring some one with you, put them in red! (except @UTAH lol)
    1. LJTucson's Avatar
      LJTucson -
      Great article. I firmly believe that fan support helps to will a team to victory even in the toughest of places. We are very fortunate that most of the arenas we play in on the road don't have as strong a fan base as we do here otherwise it would be impossible to get in those venues.
    1. Jeff's Avatar
      Jeff -
      Damn, only two more chances to watch AG (and maybe other Cats, too) at McKale.
    1. Arty's Avatar
      Arty -
      Nice opinion piece Pras. Fully agree. Let's hope we can prevail on the road.
    1. Zona Nation's Avatar
      Zona Nation -
      Awesome write up. I couldn't agree more. Go CATS!!!
    1. LWash's Avatar
      LWash -
      Good timing!! This is a wakeup call for all of us who are fans.
    1. pacman10's Avatar
      pacman10 -
      Quote Originally Posted by LWash View Post
      Good timing!! This is a wakeup call for all of us who are fans.

      I have not commented lately but my thoughts exactly. We still have a great team that can make a deep run in the big dance and maybe that thought (in the heads of our players) has contributed to the current play. A little bit of big headedness can disrupt a players ability to focus on the game and task at hand. One game at a time with focus, commitment team play will turn this ship around. I BELIEVE in this team and what they are capable of doing this season and we need show that support in all that we do ..................... and post.
    1. AlwaysBeenACatFan's Avatar
      AlwaysBeenACatFan -
      I have been cheering them on for 40 years, not going to stop now. The final chapters of this club has not yet been written and I am anxiously awaiting to see/hear them.
    1. LA Catz's Avatar
      LA Catz -
      I agree with Pras, it's always nice to hear those chants at opposing venues, must be sweet music to our coaches and players ears. Let's do this Cats, BTFD.
    1. Ocean Beach Cat's Avatar
      Ocean Beach Cat -
      I couldn't agree more, nice job Pras. I'll do my part!
    1. lsg_da_apache's Avatar
      lsg_da_apache -
      Yes I am in total agreement. I will be supporting our team at the Cal game. It was heartbreaking losing to the Stun-Devils, but the season must go on. We must move forward. At the end of the day I am still the biggest U of A fan. Win, Lose, or Draw!
    1. Papadeuce's Avatar
      Papadeuce -
      This is a great writeup and I couldn't agree more. Time to pull together wildcat fans, this team needs all of us!
    1. NYWildcat03's Avatar
      NYWildcat03 -
      This may be my favor piece done on this site since I joined. Goosebumps.
    1. Deb's Avatar
      Deb -
      On point, Pras! I'd sure like to think all of us avid (and sometimes crazy) fans make a difference. I know I tend to rally behind and cheer for them even more when they struggle. As for me, my backing of the Cats is not conditional on how well they play - win or lose they have my support. Because I choose to.
    1. surgeon's Avatar
      surgeon -
      There will be a ton of Zona folks on hand at Coors this saturday. We'll be loud.
    1. YoDeFoe's Avatar
      YoDeFoe -
      Best of the year, Pras. Bear Down.
    1. Murd's Avatar
      Murd -
      Great read Pras
    1. ArizWildcat4life's Avatar
      ArizWildcat4life -
      True fans never give up their support. When the team loses it hurts. I have been to Michigan, UCLA, and ASU to cheer on these Cats even though my wallet said otherwise. Our fans have traveled well, I would be embarrassed to have chants of the other team echo through the rafters like the chants of UofA this year through our opponents rafters. Arizona has my support through and through.
    1. fserna's Avatar
      fserna -
      Quote Originally Posted by LA Catz View Post
      I agree with Pras, it's always nice to hear those chants at opposing venues, must be sweet music to our coaches and players ears. Let's do this Cats, BTFD.
      What does BTFD stand for? New to the site, still learning the lingo, thanks..

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